RogerBW's Blog

Betrayal, Pippa DaCosta 08 January 2018

2015 science fiction. Captain Caleb Shepperd runs a rustbucket interplanetary freighter, trying to make enough money to keep going. Number 1001 is a synth, supposedly built to be some rich woman's immortal body, but in practice sent off as an assassin. Things aren't going to go well.

I think this is the sort of book that's described as "all the feels"; it shamelessly pushes every emotional button, and by sheer numbers some of them are effective. It's gritty SF with minimal worldbuilding: yeah, we have spaceships, they go from place to place, they're expensive to run, there seem to be multiple star systems with gates between them, but that's about it really. A trip takes long enough for the next bit of plot that happens aboard the ship, and then it's over. There are space drugs and space hookers (with hearts of space gold, naturally). The villainous plot, while it is coherent in the sense that if everything went right the villain's objective would be achieved, is remarkably brittle and therefore a terrible idea.

There's a fair bit of sex, some drug use, and lots of moral ambiguity. One particular flashback is described by different people from multiple angles, but that just means we see it multiple times, and this is no Rashomon: we learned what we needed to learn the first time round. The book opens with a flash-forward, and ends on multiple cliffhangers.

Like the Ketty Jay series and perhaps even more than it, this is aimed directly at fans of the crew-of-misfits exemplified by Firefly, Farscape and similar shows that trace their ancestry back to Blake's 7. It's largely without redeeming qualities and it relies heavily on cliché, but it's an enjoyable wallow nonetheless. It would be an error to eat a whole boxful at once.

Followed by Escape.

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